January 2019

Film Review: A Boy’s Adventure in ‘The Kid Who Would Be King’

CHICAGO – The marketing of this film keeps mentioning the 1980s cult film ‘The Goonies,’ but this British based “school mates” adventure is rooted more in King Arthur and “The Sword in the Stone.” A boy’s grand adventure plays out with themes of what is at stake in a delightful “The Kid Who Would Be King.”

A Boy’s Adventure in ‘The Kid Who Would Be King’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – The marketing of this film keeps mentioning the 1980s cult film ‘The Goonies,’ but this British based “school mates” adventure is rooted more in King Arthur and “The Sword in the Stone.” A boy’s grand adventure plays out with themes of what is at stake in a delightful “The Kid Who Would Be King.”

Theater News: Last Days of Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival, thru Jan. 27, 2019

Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival 2019

CHICAGO – They’ve got the world on a string – and other forms of bringing inanimate objects to life – at the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival, which is currently presenting shows all around the city through January 27th, 2019. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

Film News: 2019 Oscar Nominations includes ‘Minding the Gap,’ by Chicago’s Kartemquin Films

CHICAGO – Chicago’s Kartemquin Films continues their winning streak, as director Bing Liu’s “Minding the Gap” scores an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary. The 91st Academy Awards will take place on February 24th, 2019.

Film Review: Too Much Wasted Time in M. Night Shyamalan’s ‘Glass’

CHICAGO – Maybe inside filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan’s head, his latest film “Glass” works… all the elements of what we need to know about this sequel to MNS’s previous films “Split” and “Unbreakable” are within. However, what works inside the director’s head may not work for the audience, especially in the first half of the film.

Too Much Wasted Time in M. Night Shyamalan’s ‘Glass’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.0/5.0
Rating: 3.0/5.0

CHICAGO – Maybe inside filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan’s head, his latest film “Glass” works… all the elements of what we need to know about this sequel to MNS’s previous films “Split” and “Unbreakable” are within. However, what works inside the director’s head may not work for the audience, especially in the first half of the film.

Theater Review: Brown Paper Box Co’s Magnificent, Must-See ‘Little Women: The Musical’

Little Women: The Musical

CHICAGO – The story of “Little Women,” by Louisa May Alcott, has been an American institution since its publication in 1869. The story of four girls-to-little-women during the American Civil War, with their indomitable mother holding down the household while their father is away in the war, was a perfect candidate to become a Broadway musical. The Brown Paper Box Co. (BPBCo) is currently presenting a brilliant adaptation of that musical for the storefront stage, and its emotion, music craft and energy is nothing sort of a triumph… this small theater company that could does it again. The show has various evening/matinee performances at the The Strawdog Theatre in Chicago through February 9th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

Film News: Midwest Independent Film Fest ‘Best of the Midwest’ Best Feature is 'Cold War'

CHICAGO – On a cold day in January, it was a “Cold War” night. The Midwest Independent Film Festival “Best of the Midwest” (BMA) Awards for 2018 were given out on January 17th, 2019, and “Cold War” took home three major honors, including Best Feature.

Exclusive Photo: In Memoriam for Broadway Legend Carol Channing, Dead at 97

Carol Channing, photo by Joe Arce

CHICAGO – Carol Channing was always, seemingly, full of sunshine. With her unique voice and “back row” Broadway singing chops, the eternal ingenue sparkled through a remarkable seven decade show business career. Ms. Channing died on January 15th, 2019, at the age of 97, at her home in Rancho Mirage, California.

Podtalk: Director Richard Yeagley Observes ‘The Sunday Sessions’

Sunday Sessions, The

CHICAGO – The film ”Boy Erased” was released in November, a star-studded “based on real events” memoir film about the topic of “gay conversion therapy” (the rejected-by-the-medical-world notion of using techniques to convert a gay individual to straight). Director Richard Yeagley has produced a documentary on the same subject, “The Sunday Sessions,” which has more authenticity because it’s completely real. One more screening of the film will take place on January 16th, 2019, part of Gene Siskel Film Center’s “Stranger Than Fiction” series. Click here for tickets and details.

Podtalk: Mike Kwielford on Midwest Independent Film Fest’s ‘Best of the Midwest,’ Jan. 17, 2019

CHICAGO – Local Awards Season is coming up with the Best of the Midwest, honoring the 2018 film year of the Midwest Independent Film Festival. The Gala is on Thursday, January 17th, 2019, click here for tickets and information.

Film Review: Unsettling View of Evil in Lars von Trier’s ‘The House That Jack Built’

House That Jack Built, The

CHICAGO – With director Lars von Trier, who is a mad f**king genius of a filmmaker, it’s always make or break (or both). He breaks in his latest, “The House That Jack Built” which is all too much of evil everything, until it morphs into a last act that has an intriguing and unsettling sense of weird purpose. The story of a serial killer and the meticulous realizations of his killings is like a sound meter that is constantly going into the red zone, until the damn thing shatters.

Unsettling View of Evil in Lars von Trier’s ‘The House That Jack Built’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – With director Lars von Trier, who is a mad f**king genius of a filmmaker, it’s always make or break (or both). He breaks in his latest, “The House That Jack Built” which is all too much of evil everything, until it morphs into a last act that has an intriguing and unsettling sense of weird purpose. The story of a serial killer and the meticulous realizations of his killings is like a sound meter that is constantly going into the red zone, until the damn thing shatters.

Film News: ‘The Sunday Sessions’ at Gene Siskel Film Center on Jan. 16, 2019

Sunday Sessions, The

CHICAGO – The art of the documentary film gets a different spin in the Gene Siskel Film Centers January series, Stranger Than Fiction. As part of this series, the Chicago Premiere of “The Sunday Sessions” – a film about so-called “gay conversion” therapy from the inside – will screen on Friday, January 11th, 2018. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

Interview: Recording Artist Jennifer Zhang Debuts Video for ‘Flying High’ on Jan. 12, 2019

Flying High

CHICAGO – Asian American musician, model, actress, influencer, producer and entrepreneur Jennifer Zhang, based in Chicago, is making waves in the U.S. and global music scene with the premiere of her latest single and video, “Flying High.” The song is East meets West, with Chinese instruments and sounds blending with an energetic contemporary beat.

Film Review: ‘The Upside’ Works Because of Kevin Hart & Bryan Cranston

Upside, The

CHICAGO – In 2011, there was a notable French film called “The Intouchables,” based on the true story of quadriplegic Phillippe Pozzo di Borgo and the relationship with his caregiver. Leave it to the U.S. film industry to get its sticky fingers on the story, and seven years later Bryan Cranston portrays “Phillip” and his caretaker is portrayed by Kevin Hart. Instead of story, this version relies on its lead actors.

‘The Upside’ Works Because of Kevin Hart & Bryan Cranston

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – In 2011, there was a notable French film called “The Intouchables,” based on the true story of quadriplegic Phillippe Pozzo di Borgo and the relationship with his caregiver. Leave it to the U.S. film industry to get its sticky fingers on the story, and seven years later Bryan Cranston portrays “Phillip” and his caretaker is portrayed by Kevin Hart. Instead of story, this version relies on its lead actors.

Film Review: De-Glamorizing Nicole Kidman Can’t Save ‘Destroyer’

Destroyer

CHICAGO – If you are in a particular frame of mind you can kinda see why someone thought “Destroyer” would be a good idea. It’s got an Academy Award winner, doing a physical transformation, and has a hard-boiled detective story. All of these elements in the right hands could have added up to awards show adulation.

De-Glamorizing Nicole Kidman Can’t Save ‘Destroyer’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 1.0/5.0
Rating: 1.0/5.0

CHICAGO – If you are in a particular frame of mind you can kinda see why someone thought “Destroyer” would be a good idea. It’s got an Academy Award winner, doing a physical transformation, and has a hard-boiled detective story. All of these elements in the right hands could have added up to awards show adulation.

Feature: Top 20 Celebrity Photos of 2018, by Joe Arce of HollywoodChicago.com

CHICAGO – 2018 was a killer year. I lost both my father and my childhood guitar idol|/mentor Ed King (of Lynyrd Skynyrd) within four days of each other. Both men played instrumental roles in starting and supporting my chosen photographic journey.

Film Review: ‘Bathtubs Over Broadway’ Revives a Forgotten Art Form

Bathtubs Over Broadway

CHICAGO – There are cultural heroes, and then there is comedy writer Steve Young. Through sheer happenstance, he began a journey that ended up with a rediscovery of an art form that without Young’s intervention would have died. The U.S. corporation Broadway-style “industrial musical,” which highlighted products or sales meetings in a song and dance presentation, were at its peak popularity from the 1950s through the ‘70s. “Bathtubs Over Broadway” is Young’s documentary of appreciation for those shows and and his intervention to revive them.

‘Bathtubs Over Broadway’ Revives a Forgotten Art Form

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.5/5.0
Rating: 4.5/5.0

CHICAGO – There are cultural heroes, and then there is comedy writer Steve Young. Through sheer happenstance, he began a journey that ended up with a rediscovery of an art form that without Young’s intervention would have died. The U.S. corporation Broadway-style “industrial musical,” which highlighted products or sales meetings in a song and dance presentation, were at its peak popularity from the 1950s through the ‘70s. “Bathtubs Over Broadway” is Young’s documentary of appreciation for those shows and and his intervention to revive them.

Feature: HollywoodChicago.com’s Overrated & Worst Films of 2018

CHICAGO – It’s easy to bohemian rhapsodize about the best films in any particular year… it’s why we go to the movies. But what about those times when 1) everybody loves something, and you think, “huh?” or 2) the film is just plain “the worst”? Jon Lennon Espino, Spike Walters and Patrick McDonald of HollywoodChicago.com can relate.

Interview: Local Band whitewolfsonicprincess Releases ‘The Alternate Boot’ on Jan. 8, 2019

wwspfront.jpg

CHICAGO – The album premiere is a cause for celebration, and the local Chicagoland band whitewolfsonicprinces (wwsp) is debuting their third album, a double set release called “The Alternate Boot Vols. 1 & 2” on January 8th, 2019. For more on the album release and all things wwsp, click here.

Podtalk: Director Nadine Labaki Creates ‘Capernaum’

Capernaum

CHICAGO – One of the best films of 2018 is “Capernaum.” The title means “Chaos,” and co-writer/director Nadine Labaki certainly created a form of that action in the crazy quilt journey of the main character of Zain, an undocumented immigrant boy in Lebanon. From a story that takes us from his street survival to a court of law… suing his parents, “Capernaum” is a multi-layered masterpiece.

Film Feature: The 10 Best Films of 2018, By Patrick McDonald

CHICAGO – With 2018 in the rear view mirror (finally), it’s time in this first week of 2019 to reflect on what was, with the 10 BEST FILMS of 2018… as selected by Patrick McDonald, the Über-Critic of HollywoodChicago.com. The list includes docs, animated films and even superheroes, along with the snooty film critic fare that’s always ripe for the watching.

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  • Elizabeth Laidlaw

    CHICAGO – The recent limited series “The Red Line” on CBS-TV was notable for a couple elements – it was set in Chicago and it featured Chicago actors in major roles. Creators Caitlin Parrish and Erica Weiss (from here), cast their Chi-town colleague Elizabeth Laidlaw, who portrayed police officer “Vic” Renna.

  • 2019 Physical Theater Festival

    CHICAGO – The visual artistry of the stage is often due to the picture that is created through the physicality and movement of the actors. This is brought to light in the 6th annual Physical Theater Festival in Chicago, a cornucopia of international imagination generating theater through the physical realm. Co-founders/Artistic Directors Alice Da Cunha and Marc Frost created the fest, which runs from May 31st through June 9th, 2019, Stage 773 in the Belmont Avenue Theater District. All the Festival information – including tickets – can be found by clicking here.

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